OK, it has now been 10 years that we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? It makes no sense at all. It is, frankly, nuts. What am I missing? What goal. What strategy. What objective. What end? Can someone kindly explain? Our leaders sure can’t. What we have gotten from them is vague promises. Obscure goals. Threats of terrible things happening to us if the Taliban should take Afghanistan. The need to chase remaining Al Qaeda members into the mountains of Pakistan…or else (or else what?).
On the other hand, I can give you at least half a dozen reasons why we should get out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan, and stop this nonsense NOW. Worst of all, none of these reasons are new or even profound – and that makes it even more depressing, because our reasons for leaving seem so obvious. Well, here are 6 good reasons to leave these countries to their own corrupt leaders and bring our troops home now, without further delay, or casualties.
- Our presence in the Middle East is not only unappreciated, but counter-productive to building strong relationships in the region with the people, not their dictatorial leaders. As the Egyptian revolutions prove, we need the support and respect of the people of the region if we are to sell our brand of democracy.
- These regimes are notoriously inept, dictatorial, and corrupt – yet, we cannot throw enough money their way. In Iraq, after all the blood we have spilled there, the government is not welcomed, it is urgently trying to find ways to gain support, and sectarian violence continues, and will do so as long as there are Sunnis and Shiites. In Afghanistan, the government is just plain obscene. It is no wonder the Taliban (who are absolutely no threat to our nation), even with their disgusting beliefs, have gained traction. Moreover, as we should have learned in Viet Nam (see below), the Taliban will be there centuries after American troops are withdrawn and this rotten venture has passed. What America’s legacy will be is graves and debt.
- It is sometimes rationalized that we “must kill Al Qaeda fighters”. Fine, but they have but a small number in Afghanistan, they retreat over the border into Pakistan, and we can be there for decades more and not kill them all. Why? Because Al Qaeda is an idea…a concept…a belief. You do not kill a “belief” by capturing small villages in a destitute Central Asian country.
- For too long, America has been on the wrong side of selling true democracy to the world. Whether it be the ill advised and immoral support of the dictators of South America, or the failed and costly propping up of an unpopular regime in South Viet Nam, or turning a blind eye to the corruption of the Karzai brothers, can we never learn the lesson of this dangerous policy as the world slowly yearns and seeks freedom and democratic rule? Obama lived during the Viet Nam era. It is a lesson he had to have learned…then forgot.
- Regarding Viet Nam, I have a military friend who reminds me that in Nam we lost 58,000 dead and 300,000 wounded; but in Iraq/Afghanistan we have had “only” about 4500. Right. But then tell that to the 4500 families of the dead soldiers. Additionally, we have about 30,000 wounded, and an estimated 100,000 suffering some sort of damage such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in this ten year debacle. Add to that the hundreds of thousands civilian casualties, and the price in”blood” has not been cheap. Nor in “treasure”
- The war in now costing us $135 Billion annually. Its total cost for the 10 years we have been slogging it out in Iraq/Afghanistan has been over a $1 Trillion. I gag when I hear the righteous among us who: a) urge us to press on; b) complain vociferously about our nation debt and deficit financing; c) refuse to let us add any tax that might pay for the wars; d) then patriotically to their part in the war effort by pasting a little sticker on their car “support our troops”. To 98% of Americans, these wars have been non-events, and most of us have had zero involvement or sacrifice. Meanwhile, less than 1% of our population has bared the brunt of this mistaken adventure; and for that 1%, the dislocation, anxiety, and sacrifice has been extraordinarily painful.
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So, what am I missing here, that our administration is trying to sell us? Where is my logic flawed? And since there is so much talk these days about our Founding Fathers, let me end with two quotes from Benjamin Franklin, which seem appropriate to my argument. Franklin wisely said: “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas”.
He also noted: “God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: This is my country”. In this effort we also are failing, and this misbegotten war is a crucial reason why.